Johannesburg's Sean Frost won the 2009 Rotax Max Challenge series at the Zwartkop International Kart circuit at the weekend.
Frost withstood intense pressure from Jason Georgiou, who finished second, over the two-day event. Each has won a place in the World Max Challenge Finals which will take place in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt over December 9-12.
Aston Hare and Raoul Owens took the top two places in the Junior Max Class and will also take part in the finals in Egypt, as will Caleb Williams, winner of the super-quick DD2 gearbox Rotax Class, and Gary Marais who won the DD2 Masters Class.
Frost, Hare, Williams and Marais have also earned South African championships, as has Mini Max winner Raoul Hyman, although there will be no Mini Max category at the World finals.
The two-day SA finals of the 2009 Rotax Max Challenge series counted for two-thirds of the championship with the remianing third made up of points earned by drivers during the year in Regional meetings held in the Northern Regions, kwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
There were 27 entries in the Max Challenge series with kwaZulu-Natal's Chad van Beurden leading the series going into the finals on 95.6 points, ahead of Johannesburg's Sean Frost on 94.2, Capetonian James Ryan on 90.6 and Shau Mafuna from Johannesburg with 87.6.
Former Rotax Euro junior champion Arnold Neveling of Vereeniging stood only an outside chance of taking the title as he had scored in only two rounds of the Regional finals, due to racing in Formula Renault in Europe (where he scored two podium finishes).
However, Jason Georgiou surprised all the hot-shots by winning both pre-finals, followed home in the first by Neveling, Rory Atkinson and Chad van Beurden. In the second heat he came in ahead of Sean Frost, Olivier Calkoen and Neveling.
Early favourite Shau Mafuna had problems in both pre-finals and effectively dropped from title contention.
Arnold Neveling dominated both finals, showing why he is seen as a rising international talent in single-seaters. However, Frost had done enough to secure 2009 South African Max Challenge championship ahead of Georgiou. Ryan was third overall, one point ahead of Neveling with Rory Atkinson fifth and Shau Mafuna sixth.
JUNIOR MAX CHALLENGE
Cape Town's Aiden de Nobrega led going into the finals from fellow Capetonian Luke Herring with Zwartkop regular Aston Hare very close on points. Hare took three race wins over the weekend, including back-to-back wins in the two finals that netted him 55 points each.
That gave Hare the Junior Max title, ahead of Raoul Owens, who never gave up trying, winning the second pre-final and finishing second and third in the two finals. Liam Venter finished third in the standings after two seconds from four races.
ROTAX MAX DD2 GEARBOX CLASS
The super-fast DD2 Gearbox class was a Caleb Williams benefit as the super-smooth Williams netted three wins and a second to take the title. Ian Young's two seconds, a third and a fine win in Final 2 brought him up to second, ahead of Justin Allison.
The Masters category saw Gary Marais secure the SA championship - and a trip to Egypt - after some tough and entertaining dicing with George dos Ramos and John van Wyk.
The jump to Mini Max from the much less powerful GP Junior Class is never an easy one but the extra power didn't faze Raoul Hyman, who won all four races to take the title.
Dewald Brummer had led the championship going into the finals weekend and his three seconds and a fourth were good enough for runner-up ahead of Nathan Parkins and Lyle Ramsay.
GP JUNIORS/ MAXTERINO
A new Italian Maxter 60cc engine was introduced at the Max Challenge Finals as a proposed replacement for the aging GP Junior engines. The South African Rotax Max distributor provided engines for the entire field for the two finals on Sunday.
The new engines brought lap times down by about two seconds but made little difference to the results. Sheldon van der Linde dominated both pre-finals with the old engine and won both finals with the new one.
He was pushed much harder in the two finals, however, by Bradley Liebenberg, particularly in Final 2. Liebenberg finished second overall in this non-championship event, ahead of Harpal Shayur, Aedan van Vuuren, Julian van der Watt and Clinton Bezuidenhout.